Tour Down Under 2017: Richie Porte blasts to stage two win and into race lead - Road Cycling UK

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Tour Down Under 2017: Richie Porte blasts to stage two win and into race lead

BMC Racing man wins on Paracombe to pull on ochre jersey

Richie Porte (BMC Racing) took a big step towards winning a first Tour Down Under title after riding away from the bunch on the uphill finish at Paracombe to win stage two and claim the race lead.

The 31-year-old Australian, the pre-race favourite, pulled clear of his rivals on the climb to beat Gorka Izaguirre (Movistar) and Johan Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott) by 16 seconds.

With bonus seconds also thrown into the equation, Porte is now 20 seconds clear of Izaguirre overall but refused to be drawn into claiming the race is his, with only one other summit finish – Willunga Hill, where Porte has won for the last three years – to come.

Richie Porte soloed to victory on the Paracombe climb to win stage two of the 2017 Santos Tour Down Under (pic – Sirotti)

“I know I’ve got good climbing legs and I didn’t really want to wait around, so to be able to ride away like that gives me good confidence,” he said.

“I know it’s not over with a few quite hard stages remaining [but] the team are fantastic and strong so I’m quite confident.

“There’s some stressful days coming up, so we won’t be counting out chickens until they hatch.”

The circuitous start to the stage, in Stirling, was a tepid affair initially, with the early-season legs clearly playing a part as the intensity remained quite low.

An attempted breakaway by Ondrej Cink (Bahrain-Merida) and Cameron Meyer (UniSA-Australia) failed to come of anything, meaning Britain’s Ben Swift (UAE Abu Dhabi) was able to grab maximum bonus points at the first intermediate sprint.

Next to try his luck up the road was Movistar’s Jasha Sutterlin, who built up a steady five-minute lead as the peloton set an easy rhythm behind the German.

World champion Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) and stage one winner and race leader Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) both showed themselves at the front of the bunch, but the gap was still at four minutes as the final circuit of Stirling began.

BMC Racing, Lotto-Soudal and Team Sky all came forward to up the ante, however, and with 40km remaining Sutterlin’s break was over as the pace ramped up again.

Richie Porte leads the 2017 Santos Tour Down Under by 20 seconds after stage two (pic – Sirotti)

Ill-timed punctures for Sergio Henao (Team Sky) and Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) gave Movistar and Orica-Scott cause to keep the pace high but both were back in contact as the final climb began.

Sagan came forward as they hit Paracombe, but when Porte blasted clear nobody could answer his attack save for Izaguirre.

As the Spaniard dropped back, however, Porte was left to solo to the fourth Tour Down Under stage win of his career – the first away from Willunga Hill – and into the ochre jersey.

Izaguirre and Chaves remain 20 and 22 seconds behind, respectively, but defending champion Simon Gerrans is now 58 seconds in arrears with Porte firmly in the driving seat for a first overall win in Adelaide.

Santos Tour Down Under 2016: stage two – result

1) Richie Porte (AUS) – BMC Racing – 3.46.06hrs
2) Gorka Izaguirre (ESP) – Movistar +16”
3) Johan Esteban Chaves (COL) – Orica-Scott – ST
4) Rohan Dennis (AUS) – BMC Racing +19”
5) Nathan Haas (AUS) – Dimension Data – ST
6) Diego Ulissi (ITA) – UAE Abu Dhabi
7) Ruben Guerreiro (POR) – Trek-Segafredo
8) Michael Storer (AUS) – UniSA-Australia
9) Michael Woods (CAN) – Cannondale-Drapac
10) Luis Leon Sanchez (ESP) – Astana

General classification

1) Richie Porte (AUS) – BMC Racing – 7.10.14hrs
2) Gorka Izaguirre (ESP) – Movistar +20”
3) Johan Esteban Chaves (COL) – Orica-Scott +22”
4) Jay McCarthy (AUS) – Tinkoff +24”
5) Nathan Haas (AUS) – Dimension Data +27”
6) Diego Ulissi (ITA) – UAE Abu Dhabi +29”
7) Nathan Earle (AUS) – UniSA-Australia – ST
8) Rohan Dennis (AUS) – BMC Racing
9) Luis Leon Sanchez (ESP) – Astana
10) Rafael Valls (ESP) – Lotto-Soudal
Selected others
41) Geraint Thomas (GBR) – Team Sky +1.07
54) James Shaw (GBR) – Lotto-Soudal +1.34
57) Ben Swift (GBR) – UAE Abu Dhabi +1.41

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